Antipode New Zealand is nowhere near the Holy See, but that’s no real excuse for having two dioceses without a bishop for so long, says Luke Coppen in The Pillar.
It has been three years since Charles Drennan resigned as Bishop of Palmerston North.
Coppen points out that appointing bishops in New Zealand was not much of a problem before.
He reports that observers outside the Diocese of Palmerston North say the local church has done surprisingly well without a bishop over the past three years. However, there are certain decisions that must wait until the arrival of the new bishop.
One person who spoke with a local clergyman told The Pillar that he could put up five candidates for open parishes.
“The issue is not the availability of candidates, but the criteria by which they are selected.”
He told Coppen that the way bishops are elected is “outdated”.
He said he was asked to fill out a form regarding potential bishops asking questions such as whether the candidate’s family had reasons to cause a scandal in the church.
How do you measure recent scandals? Is life and family life complicated today? he asked.
“We are looking for the perfect man,” he said.
“This model is still looking for a man who can be both submissive and almost a careerist at the same time. So it becomes kind of a contradiction you’re looking for,” another priest suggested. did.
He told Coppen that he believes the group that has probably suffered the most from the Vatican’s inactivity is the parish team.
“They are like working for a bishop.”
“They’re his people doing his bidding, and I’ll tell you about everyone, they’re a little lost.”
Exploring the reasons for the delay, Coppen said the missions that control the process of ordaining bishops in New Zealand were well staffed and believed to be “pretty efficient”. .
Noting the need for Decastery to work with a powerful Secretary of State, Coppen asks if this interaction is slowing the process, but concludes that there is no evidence to suggest this is the case. rice field.
Since 2019, Tanzania’s Archbishop Novatus Rugambwa has been New Zealand’s papal legate.
He has also been an instructor in a dizzying number of other regions, including Fiji, Tonga and Samoa.
One of the priests Coppen interviewed suggested that the problem appeared to be the relationship between the New Zealand bishop and the papal legate.
He opined that they have different “visions of the church”.
At his inauguration as Bishop of Auckland in March, Bishop Lowe, the former Bishop of Hamilton, thanked Archbishop Rugambwa for his presence.
“Will you please work hard to find a great Bishop for Hamilton? I believe we are also looking for Palmerston North and Christchurch.
Coppen says there was nothing in the lighthearted comment to suggest there was a divide between the Holy See and the bishop. But it implies that the absence of a new bishop weighs heavily on the minds of church leaders.
Archbishop Rugambuwa did not respond to requests for comment at the time of publication.
https://cathnews.co.nz/2022/10/17/new-zealand-bishop-appointments-vatican/ New Zealand: Forgotten by the Vatican?